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The Irish Golfer Magazine Top 100 Irish Course Ranking 2018

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Welcome to the inaugural Irish Golfer Magazine Top 100 Irish Golf Courses ranking.


Everyone loves rankings. That said, they are the cause of much debate and argument across golf clubs as every golfer has their favourite… and while our top 20s might be the same they most likely won’t be in the same order.


In putting together these rankings we tried to capture what is the essence of a golf club in Ireland these days. It’s not just the 1-18 that need to be considered. The club as a whole needs to be factored in. The clubhouse, the staff, value for money, the facilities available, all these elements (and more) go into elevating a golf course into a golf club and this is what we were trying to evaluate.


We are no longer in the heady days where golf club membership was a prerequisite to being accepted in polite society. Nowadays, membership of a golf club means that you are playing the game, you are involved, active and as such are able (if not always willing) to avail of the other services on offer at the club.  Some these services, by the way, are the only things keeping the doors open at certain clubs around the country, so please try and give your support to your club where you can.  A simple tea and sandwich after your weekly game can make all the difference.


As you will notice from the criteria outlined below, IGM identified certain key elements through which we would assess a golf club. They were of course weighted heavily towards the course itself which is as it should be and we’ve tried to give you an idea of the types of items considered under each heading. This is by no means an exhaustive list of what we considered or discussed in determining the positions but it is a guideline.


We make no excuses for the fact that links courses dominate the top portion of the rankings. It can and has been argued that links and parkland courses shouldn’t be measured against each other and for those of that inclination you will find a breakout box on page 103 which lists the top 30 parkland and the top 30 links. However, for the purposes of this list we have pitted the old foes against one another and while links win out in the top 20 stakes, parklands represent 60 of the 100 places.


Congratulations to the clubs included and commiserations to those that just missed out. 



1. Portmarnock

2. Royal Portrush

3. Royal County Down

4. Lahinch

5. Ballybunion (Old)

6. Waterville

7. County Louth

8. The Island

9. Tralee

10. The European

11. County Sligo

12. Ballyliffin (Glashedy)

13. Enniscrone

14. Carne

15. K Club (Palmer)

16. Portsalon

17. Ballyliffin (Old)

18. Royal Dublin

19. Trump International Doonbeg

20. Mount Juliet

21. Donegal

22. Killeen Castle

23. Slieve Russell

24. Fota Island

25. Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links

26. Dooks

27. Portstewart (Strand)

28. Narin & Portnoo

29. Lough Erne

30. Old Head

31. Rosapenna (Sandy Hills)

32. Carton House (Montgomerie)

33. Connemara

34. Druids Glen

35. Luttrellstown Castle

36. Carlow

37. Cork

38. Royal Portrush (Valley)

39. Killarney (Killeen)

40. Castlerock

41. Headfort (New)

42. Belvoir Park

43. Rosapenna (Old Tom Morris)

44. The Heritage

45. Strandhill

46. Malone

47. Powerscourt (West)

48. Ballybunion (Cashen)

49. Portumna

50. Dromoland Castle

51. K Club (Smurfit)

52. Galway Bay

53. New Forest

54. Carton House (O’Meara)

55. Concra Wood

56. Hermitage

57. Rathsallagh

58. Rosslare

59. Galgorm Castle

60. Tullamore

61. Palmerstown House Estate

62. St. Anne’s

63. St. Margaret’s

64. Moyvalley

65. Castle

66. Bunclody

67. Galway

68. Arklow

69. Castlemartyr

70. Mount Wolseley

71. Grange

72. Esker Hills

73. Royal Belfast

74. Macreddin

75. Powerscourt (East)

76. Killarney (Mahony’s Point)

77. Ardglass

78. Farnham Estate

79. Westport

80. Hilton Templepatrick

81. Clandeboye (Dufferin)

82. North West

83. Mullingar

84. Dun Laoghaire

85. Seapoint

86. Laytown & Bettystown

87. Balbriggan

88. Headfort (Old)

89. Tramore

90. Dingle

91. Tulfarris

92. Royal Curragh

93. Naas

94. Glasson

95. Ballinrobe

96. Waterford Castle

97. Castletroy

98. Royal County Down (Annesley)

99. Grange Castle

100. Royal Tara


Note: Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Club and  Hogs Head were excluded from consideration as both were closed to the public at time of publication.


The Ranking Categories

  • Course design & layout (Weighting 35%)

Do the par 3’s play to different points of the compass: Is there variety in length and layout: Are there risk reward holes: Is there strategic use of bunkering / false fronts / depth perception etc: Are there multiple tee boxes for variety and player categories: Green sizing, shaping and contouring: Fairway shaping and slopes: Types of grass used: Use of natural contours in the land: Strategic routing for minimal space used (cost saving in long term): 

  • Quality of test / playability (Weighting 25%)

Is the course fair (can it be fair) for most players: Does the course test every player: Does the course call for a variety of tee shots / iron shots throughout the round: Is the rough penal or are there various cuts: Are tee boxes rotated to affect different landing areas:

  • Condition & presentation (Weighting 20%)

How is the course presented – Fairways / tee boxes / greens / rough / common areas: Are the club doing a good job on conditioning: Are there areas of obvious problems (such as a green or tee box in need of repair / bunker sanding issues / overgrown trees / rough being too dense or too long): Are there areas which need attention (such as divot infested tee boxes / lots of pitch marks on greens): Are there bins on the course – are they emptied: 

  • Club facilities & Visitor Experience (Weighting 10%) 

Clubhouse facilities (lockers / restaurant / bar / showers etc.): Pro Shop facilities (shop / clothing / refreshments / equipment): Practice facilities (putting green / chipping green / practice areas): On course facilities (caddies / buggies / halfway house / toilets): Easy and helpful booking procedure: Friendly staff: Welcomed on arrival: Value for money:

  • Visual Appeal (Weighting 10%)

Is there a wow factor: Can you remember holes visually after playing the course: Would you come back to play just for the view / visual appeal: 


The Panel

John Shortt – Chairman – Editor of Irish Golfer Magazine

Kevin Markham – Golf writer, photographer and author of two books on Irish golf

Ally McIntosh – Golf course architect, IGM golf course design columnist

John Kelly – Former Irish PGA Order of Merit Winner / Chairman of the Irish Branch of the PGA

Damien McGrane – Current Irish PGA Order of Merit holder / Former European Tour member

Peter Finnan – Digital Editor of Irish Golfer Magazine


Read the full article in the December 2017 Edition – Click cover below to launch



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